Special Sub-Topic: My True Love Guild To Me - 3rd Day
|In the famous Christmas song, 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' the true love's offering on the third day was "three French hens". This title has appealed to many businesses in the English-speaking world but what are the large majority of the 'Three French Hens' with this name on the internet selling or providing? |
French antiques, gifts or restaurants. The overwhelming majority of businesses adopting this title are for homelike products or surroundings as an informal search on Google or Yahoo in December of 2008 reveals. You can select French antiques, gifts or home décor from Three French Hens in Wildwood, Missouri; Claremont, California; Bellingham, Washington; Unionville, Pennsylvania; Maple Valley, Washington; Fort Thomas, Kentucky and a few others. In terms of cozy restaurants or eating establishments, you can eat in The Three French Hens in several places including one near Auckland New Zealand; Charlotte, North Carolina; Manning, South Carolina; a pub near Stourbridge in England; or Grand Coteau, Lousiana.
|Which of these are literally "three French hens" or older French breeds of hens from the time when the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' was popularized? |
La Fleche, Crèvecoeur and Houdans. Poultry historians, yes they exist, trace these breeds way back. Morbier is a wonderful cheese from Franche-Comte with a layer of ash that gives it a distinctive stripe. Normande, Charolais and Limousin are cows which I do not believe were on the gift list. Morilles, Pleurote and les Cèpes are all mushrooms. The Crevecoeur gets its name from a village in Normandy as does the Houdan chicken. La Fleche is a handsome black chicken, the Houdan often has black and white speckles with a top knot and the Crevecoeur is black with a crest. So, all the answers to this question are French names for things to eat but only three names are for chicken.
|Well known for her revamping of traditional fairy tales, children's author Margie Palatini (with the delightful illustrations of Richard Egielski) decided to feature the "Three French Hens" in a tale of the same name. Which holiday traditions are celebrated in this tale?
Christmas and Hanukkah. The three French hens Colette, Fifi and Poulette end up at the wrong place but it makes for a good story that intertwines two holiday traditions and entertains the reader. In a twist of events, the hens don't arrive at Philippe Renard's house as planned but instead at Phil Fox in the Bronx. As the story reveals however, Fox will be transformed by this event!
|Speaking about hens and gifts and special occasions, that leads us to this burning question; what is a 'hen party' anyway?
A bachelorette party for the bride and her friends. The feminine version of a stag party is no longer the scene of drunken debauchery so much as a dinner out amongst the women friends of the bride but in the UK, you will still find establishments advertising some pretty dicey types of parties and advice. The Red Hat Society is a group of women who have decided to embrace their entry into middle age with flair and wear red hats during their get togethers. Local Chapters exist all around the globe but primarily in English speaking countries. The poem by Jenny Joseph about getting older and wearing a red hat furnished the apparel idea. Believe it or not, there are many gatherings of chicken aficionados, and they have kept some of the French breeds of poultry mentioned in this quiz alive over the years through their efforts. As to the notion of French lingerie and Tupperware at the same party, I don't believe this has happened yet, but perhaps it's an idea to pursue for one stop shopping.
|In some traditional tales, eggs are precious gifts. So, if my true love had given me three of these French hens and a rooster of this breed, I'd be gathering rich dark chocolate looking eggs which would tempt James Bond according to legend. What are these French hens called? |
Marans. The Marans chickens are prized for their meat as well as their ability to lay rich brown colored eggs. "Poulet de Bresse' in France is known for its quality and its patriotic colors as they are white chickens with a red comb and blue feet. The Faverolles chicken produces tinted eggs. The Campine comes from Belgium and gives you white eggs in particular. Now as to the James Bond story, author Ian Fleming was a keen birdwatcher and named his most popular character after an American ornithologist. In the story, Bond's favorite dish was scrambled eggs and those of the Marans hen with the distinctive color were preferred. Bond's legendary finickiness about his food and drink was part of the story line.
|If my true love had hired a fine French chef to prepare my hen's eggs for me, why would his 'toque' or distinctive French chef's hat have one hundred folds? |
Because it is said to represent the many ways a true chef can prepare eggs. The word 'toque' comes to French via Arabic and probably Spanish for 'white hat' originally. The 100 pleats are said to represent the ways a chef can cook eggs. The more pleats the higher the rank. Stories abound about chefs proclaiming that they can cook something different every day of the year using eggs. Here's a bilingual joke for you. A fine French chef was giving a lecture to a group of international students of the culinary arts. He was making an omelet with only one egg. Finally, one student could no longer hold in his curiosity and held up his hand. "Cher Monsieur, why are you only using one egg?' and the chef replied, 'because one egg's un oeuf'!
|Although not a typical Christmas gift, my true love might offer me a book or two. Keeping our poultry theme, which author's three young hens (or pullets) led a rebellion over having to surrender their eggs? |
George Orwell. George Orwell's "Animal Farm" includes a passage about the hens' revolt against surrendering their eggs to the collectivity. Some scholars have suggested that the 'young Black Minorca pullets' represented the Ukrainian farmers who slaughtered their livestock rather than surrender it to the oppressor.
|I'm sure that my true love would not have wanted to miss impressing me yet again with this gift that keeps on giving...hens and chicks. Yet, do you know what hens and chicks are? |
A succulent plant with a 'mother' and a trailing 'child'. The reason this plant is called Sempervivems tectorum in Latin is that peasants used it on their roofs (tectorum) to prevent fire as it holds water in its leaves. They are called hens and chicks because the larger plant has little plants on tendrils coming out of it. Garbanzo beans are called chick peas but have a few other linguistic roots. The Latin name for chick peas reveals something interesting because the little pea resembles the head of a ram thus, 'cicer arietinum'. The chick part doesn't refer to poultry at all.
|Which of these common French poultry sayings in French is the equivalent of 'when pigs fly'? |
Quand les poules auront des dents. The answer is literally when hens have teeth meaning an unlikely occurrence on par with Frosty the Snowman's chances of survival in H.E.double hockeystick. If you go to bed with the chickens you're really an early to bed early to rise type. If you use the expression 'tuer la poule aux oeufs d'or, you're killing the chicken who laid the golden eggs. The children's rhyme about hens goes like this:
Quand trois poules vont au champ
La première va devant.
La deuxième suit la première
La troisième est la derrière.
Quand trois poules vont au champ
La première va devant.
|The chicken is the most common domesticated bird on the planet and therefore our hen had to be present in the offerings on the third day. There are other birds offered during the Twelve Days of Christmas tale however. One of these is the French word for a bird offered in the song, and the other three were not. Which of these WAS included in the song? |
le cygne. Seven Swans a Swimming and we have our swan. You'll have undoubtedly recognized it because of the swan chick's name cygnet. La caille is the quail and a term of endearment in some regions of France. Pisanello painted a 'Madonna with the Quail' in 1420. La dinde is the turkey and though many people serve it with chestnut or foie gras stuffing, it is almost never as huge as the ones you find in the USA. La cigogne is the symbol of Alsace as they come up and nest on rooftops. Some villages have them walking around for you to view.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction